A Night of Fine Dining
15 September 2011
The evening began with champagne and canapés served in the Lowry galleries.
The champagne was an excellent Perrier Jouet, while black pudding and fried quail’s egg canapé was, to my mind, the choicest on show. Between bites and quaffs one took in the always surprisingly heterogeneous work of the great Mr. Lowry.
We then decamped to the Lowry Restaurant for a five course meal, each course to be served with a different wine. To begin, there was a splendid squash served with ‘The Bandit’, an Australian wine that threatened to steal one’s breath away. It stood tall and it abundantly delivered. This was followed by potted ham and herb salad for me and, for my companion – who was and is vegetarian - spiced chickpea and aubergine caviar. Among other favourable comments, she commended the kitchen for presenting this and the later vegetarian dish in a similar setting to my own.
Next there was wild sea bass with braised chicken wing, brown rice and lentils. Instead of the sea bass and braised chicken wing (my favourite course, by the way), my friend enjoyed woodland mushroom loaf and cauliflower puree. These were puy lentils, incidentally: we asked Lisa-Marie, our waitress, about their provenance and she was very helpful in finding out and coming back with the information.
Our fourth course was Grilled Kidderton Ash, Kidderton Ash being a kind of goat’s cheese and a very tasty one at that.
Even though we were in Salford and this event was part of the Salford Food and Drink Festival, our sweet was… Manchester Tart! Like Big Brother, it seems one cannot escape from the looming neighbour. Having said all that, the tart was tantamount to scrumptious: the pastry lovely, thin and crisp; the raspberries fresh, gentle to the bite yet firm, and delightfully complementing the whipped vanilla custard; and the abundant coconut freshly flaked. Not exactly an irrefutable proof of God’s existence, but made in heaven all the same.
Of the five wines, my favourite was the Silverlake from New Zealand, fresh as a summer dawn. At the end, the Grant Burge port, which was served with chocolate truffles, deserved to be drunk in a wood-panelled library with a sliding door leading to a secret compartment, just as in the John Ashbery poem. We were served four such truffles by the way, but I was allowed only one - so you know they must have been good.
At the close, we were both agreed that it had been a very enjoyable evening and had exceeded our expectations. The food had showcased the talents of Oliver Thomas, The Lowry’s head chef and his team, but the service from the waiting staff had been a treat as well: they were helpful and friendly, responsive to our requests yet unobtrusive. A fine night all around in fact.